The Suzuka GP of 2005

This column is going to be about the races that struck me in history. Not because there was a crazy weather… not because half of the grid crashed or broke down but because on that day, a driver performed an outstanding performance. 

I believe many of you expect me to pick a race of my father or Ayrton Senna for my first column. But never forget I was 11 when my father retired and I was never able to watch one of his races live.
For me, the early 2000’s were my « golden era ». It was the time I started racing monoseaters, and I must say in my opinion this era is somewhat « underrated ». Big super powerful V10, crazy sound, drivers pushing from lights to flag, and a grid filled with Schumacher, Alonso, Montoya, Raikkonen, Trulli, etc…
Therefore, my first pick for this column is Suzuka 2005.

First let’s remind the qualifying system at the time. Drivers would do a single lap alone on track, with an order determined by a previous session. In my opinion this was probably the best system ever, you could follow all the lap and it provided a good 1 hour of entertainment. The only downside is that it was not entirely fair, especially when there were very changing conditions. Well that’s kind of what happened in Suzuka when it started raining in the middle of qualifying, hurting the fastest drivers and ending up in Schumacher lying 14th on the grid with Alonso 16th and Raikkonen 17th.

Apart from a somewhat chaotic start, the race saw an amazing fight between Schumacher and Alonso. Fernando pulled off a crazy pass outside of Michael on the 130R, one of the guzziest move in the history of Formula 1, no DRS or artificial device needed.

By the first lap, Raikkonen was in 12th place. He overtook cars after cars, also taking benefit from the multiple incidents in front of him. He spent a bit of time stuck behind Mark Webber, but thanks to a bulletproof strategy from the Mc Laren pitwall, he eventually found himself in second place. But Fisichella, who had started P3, looked out of reach.

Yet suddenly, Kimi started posting fastest lap after fastest lap, and the 20 second lead from Fisichella was quickly down to 5.

Two laps from the end, the gap was filled and Raikkonen found himself all over the Renault. Fisichella took the inside line braking for the final chicane, allowing the Finnish the faster exit but it was not enough to complete the pass.

Last lap and and Fisico did the same thing again. This time, however, Kimi was much closer. They almost touched, Fisico went to block the inside but Raikkonen went for it and completed the pass on the outside. Second « big balls » overtake of the day. Even Ron Dennis looked happy.

One mega race. One mega driver. Kimi at his best. /